What Arts and Cultural Groups Can Learn from Five Guys

Posted by Ron Evans On January - 22 - 2013

Testimonials are all over Five Guys restaurants.

I’m a strong believer that arts and cultural organizations should explore the practices of for-profit companies, and assimilate what works. Take the popular burger chain Five Guys. I heard about Five Guys launching in my city from my friends. “You have to try the burger…awesome…” they said. I have tried it, and it is a great burger experience. I also noticed interesting consumer psychology at play, and began to think about how these ideas could be adapted to arts and cultural organizations.


Every Five Guys location has its walls covered with huge media testimonials about the awesomeness of the food. Consider:


“Voted Best Burger in Florida” – Best of Florida Awards, ’08, ’09, ’10 Florida Monthly

Under the large banners are smaller articles. You can’t sit in the location without noticing. These signs are not there to get people into the store. But once people are in the room, the signs project a social influence on the user experience.“Other people really like these burgers (and you will too)” they are saying. Cue the concept of the “social norm.” Read the rest of this entry »

Elizabeth Schwan-Rosenwald

Yesterday I met with a number of potential applicants for the Taproot Foundation’s Service Grant program, which connects business professionals with nonprofits to deliver pro bono consulting projects in marketing, strategy, and human resources. I was there to continue my research into some of the more universal pain points in building strong infrastructures for performing arts organizations.

As we sat there I heard an executive director mention that “in six years we’ve never sat down and planned for or talked about the future.” They were, he explained; too busy focusing on developing and producing art.

I hesitated for a moment trying to decide the right response and the conversation turned away from his comment. But it stayed with me—I’ve heard this before.

The “now” culture within arts organizations, the focus on getting up the next show, the ever present feeling that if you’re not producing you’re somehow failing, means that conversations about how to strategically plan for the future are often an organization’s last priority.

But I hesitated yesterday because I’m not convinced; I’ve seen and worked with too many artists who are driven rather than stymied by how their vision fits into the larger national landscape. So what is it then—what is the roadblock that keeps arts organization from talking about the future?

My answer—resources; the scarcity of resources for arts organizations means most artists have adopted a head-down approach to their work. Read the rest of this entry »

Why You Should Care About Per Capita Revenue

Posted by Amelia Northrup-Simpson On October - 3 - 2011

Amelia Northrup

Usually when organizations consider their ticket sales, they look mainly at total revenue. After all, revenue is what keeps an organization running, and total revenue is the 50,000-foot view of how well an organization is doing.

However, when considering how to optimize ticket sales, calculating and analyzing per capita revenue becomes a critical measurement.

Yes, “per capita revenue” sounds boring, complex, and technical, but stick with me—the reality is that it allows you to zoom in and see how tickets are selling on a season-by-season or show-by-show basis and that’s actually pretty useful.

What is per capita revenue?
In layman’s terms, per capita revenue is the average price paid for a ticket. It can be calculated for an individual performance, a series of performances, or an entire season. You can also break it out by group tickets, single tickets, or subscription/membership purchases.

How is it calculated?
The formula for calculating per capita revenues follows: Per Capita Revenue = Total Sales Revenue/Total Unit Sales Read the rest of this entry »